The Odds are in Hunger Games Favor

Film review:

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What I liked:

I appreciate how the filmmakers balanced what could and what couldn’t be done.  Some elements of the book would be a cinematic challenge and instead of trying to pull something off with cheesy CGI effects they chose the path of caution and omission.  I would rather not see something my imagination concocted while reading a beloved book then see it cheesily (is that a word?) rendered on-screen.

The cast was fantastic, there wasn’t a single character that I found to be out-of-place and the acting was fluid and sound.  Jennifer Lawrence triumphed in the lead role of Katniss Everdeen, one of the more complex literary characters I’ve ever read in young adult fiction.  She was able to capture Katniss’ resolve and courage without making her come across as a “bad ass.”  Other noteworthy performances:  Elizabeth Banks as Effie, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna.  All three roles were executed beautifully by these actors and were true to their literary forms.

Finally, SPOILER ALERT

I enjoyed how the film took the audience behind the scenes of the operation behind the Hunger Games.  Seneca Crane, played by Wes Bentley, the overseer of the games was a more prominent character in the film than the book and this suited me.  Perhaps it’s because I am a producer but I loved to see how the Game Changers manipulated the arena and it’s inhabitants by pushing buttons and monitoring movements.  It fascinated me and was an element that the book never delves into (because it is told from Katniss’ perspective).

 

What I didn’t like:

SPOILER ALERT

Despite the appreciation I mention above, I have to say the muttations (weird-looking dogs) at the end of the film were disappointing as the hunger games reached their bloody climax.   I also didn’t like how the film spent so much time prepping for the arena and then zipped through Katniss and Peeta’s experience in the games once the announcement was made that two victors would be crowned if they were from the same district.  I don’t feel the film really developed their relationship enough to carry over effectively in the next film – where the real fun begins.  Finally, the camera work throughout the film was jumpy in a lot of places that “broke the spell” of the plot for me several times, most notably at the end when Cato, Peeta, and Katniss are battling atop the cornucopia.  I couldn’t figure out who was hitting who, with what, from where?!  Boo.

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Favorite character:

Haymitch – what can I say?  I love a sarcastic, troubled character that brings humor to awkward scenes.  Woody Harrelson was a natural choice for this role and he struck a great balance between being irritating and someone you want to hang out with socially.  There is an underlying story to Haymitch and Harrelson left the audience wanting to see and know more about his past and the time he spent in the arena.

 

Favorite lines:

Peeta Mellark: You’re our mentor! You’re supposed to help us get sponsors, give us advice.

Haymitch Abernathy: Okay. Accept the probability of your imminent death and know, in your heart, there is nothing I can do to save you.

Katniss Everdeen: But if that’s true, then why are you here?

Haymitch Abernathy: The refreshments.

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Bottom line:

The Hunger Games did a wonderful job of making one feel uncomfortable and disturbed about kids killing kids without being exploitative or gross.  I suggest you read the book first (the entire trilogy took me less than a week to finish) and head to the nearest theater to experience this film.

 

Additional Links:

The Hunger Games director says ‘no” to sequel

The Hunger Games District 12 is for sale – 1.4 Million Dollars

Box office update: ‘The Hunger Games’ fends off new competitors with $12.9 million on Friday

How ‘Hunger Games’ star Elizabeth Banks brought Effie Trinket to life


The Bourne Legacy – Official Trailer

Even without Matt Damon, this intrigues me.


Moneyball – my new favorite baseball movie

I know that’s a bold statement – especially since it dethrones the long reigning A League of Their Own as my favorite baseball movie, but it’s true.

Check out this cool trailer for Moneyball http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/moneyball/trailers/11146914#c=twittertrailer via @RottenTomatoes

What I liked:

I enjoyed the pacing of the plot and the scriptwriting was clever and often hilarious.  Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Billy Beane was flawless as the general manager of the Oakland A’s who repeatedly loses his top talent to other MLB teams with higher payrolls and decides to do something about it.  His interactions with Jonah Hill’s character, Peter Brand – the Yale graduate with a unique system for rating ball players are hilarious and inspiring.  Actually, Billy’s interactions with everyone are funny.  Oh, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is in this film.  Boom.

What I didn’t like:

The ending. I wanted to see more – at least another 10 – 15 minutes.

Favorite Character:

Billy Beane.  He’s sarcastic, direct, and hilarious (a tri-fecta if you will).

Favorite Line:

“There are rich teams, and there are poor teams. Then there’s 50 feet of crap. And then there’s us.” – Billy Beane

Bottom Line:

This movie is about baseball.  But it’s about more than just the struggles of Billy and his Oakland A’s, it’s about a fundamental issue of the game of baseball.  It’s about taking risks and believing in an idea — a crazy idea, even an unpopular idea — and seeing where it takes you.  Moneyball is funny, smart, genuine, and good.  You don’t have to like baseball to like this film.  I promise.

Baseball Movie List


Finally Disney Gives Us a Kick Ass Red Head

I’m a red head and I’ve always resented the fact that the only Disney Princess we have to represent us is the scantily dressed brat *Ariel of The Little Mermaid.  Thank you Disney.  It’s about friggin time.

*I DON’T count Cinderella because her hair isn’t exactly red – and she’s a total pushover.  I DO recognize Jessie the Cowgirl from Toy Story – but she’s not a princess.


Underworld Awakening in 3D – Gross

What I liked:

The film opens with a quick recap of the previous movies in this ridiculous franchise so I was able to follow the plot without issue (and save myself 6 hours of viewing the first three films – much appreciated).  The action sequences were impressive – which is good because the acting was not.  Most of the film was devoted to gruesome battle scenes with minimal dialogue.  This suited me.  Finally, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) looked amazing in her black latex suit – which encouraged me to do my yoga workout this morning.

What I hated:

This film was another example of why I hate 3D.  The action sequences suffered because image quality was lost in 3D – it actually subtracted from the film’s only good point.  [Side note about 3D in general:  I wear glasses so having to wear two pairs of glasses sucked – oh and my ticket was $15.50.  I could puke.]

The lycans look ridiculous and should be called werewolves, the word “lycan” makes me think of green algae.

The plot, script, and acting were all terrible.  There were some gross parts in the film too — SPOILER ALERT — I closed my eyes for this but there’s a part where a needle gets shoved into someone’s eyeball, and it lasts longer than a second, which in my opinion is too long for an eye stabbing scene.

Favorite Character:

I liked Detective Sabastian played by Michael Ealy (figures, I enjoyed the only human in the film’s acting the most).

Favorite Line:

“My heart’s not cold, it’s broken.” – Selene

Bottom Line:

As with most franchises that produce more than three films (with the exception of Harry Potter) Underworld Awakening wasn’t my cup of tea, however I can see why it would be alluring to a certain demographic (males ages 15 – 30) and so it serves it’s purpose in that regard.  Kate looked hot, there was plenty of violence/CGI effects, and they left room for another film.  Goodie.


3 Reasons to Watch Downton Abbey

I stumbled upon Downton Abbey Season 1 on Netflix Instant Queue one evening last year when my husband was away on a business trip.  I’m a fan of Anne of Green Gables, North and South, and anything involving Jane Austen so I thought this series looked promising.

I was floored.

I had finished the entire season within a day (6 episodes) and was salivating for more.  Finally, Season 2 is now airing on PBS on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST

Why should you delve headfirst into the world of Downton Abbey?  I’ll give you three reasons:

1.  Dame Maggie Smith

Honestly, I shouldn’t even have to offer another reason to watch the show besides the fabulous Dame Maggie Smith.  She plays Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham.  Violet is the mother of Sir Robert, the Earl of Grantham played by Hugh Bonneville and frequently drops in on her son’s family to meddle and opine on the happenings at Downton – particularly with regards to her eldest granddaughter Lady Mary (played by Michelle Dockery).

Violet offers a charm and wit to many a dinner conversation and to viewers, she is an easy favorite since she has no issue speaking her mind.

“Don’t be defeatist, dear. It’s very middle class.” –Violet, Season 2

2. The family/servant dynamic

It’s fascinating to see how the Crawley family interacts with the servants of the manor.  Some are treated with reserve while others are confided in as family.  The servants are especially interesting because of their respective aspirations – for some, a life of service at Downton is all they could ever hope or for, for others they long to be elsewhere.  They bicker, meddle, scheme, and dream as they cook, clean, and wait on the Crawley’s – who are of course preoccupied with their own issues; issues that impact everyone.  I often find myself liking a character one episode and despising them the next (ahem I’m talking about you O’brien).

3.  It’s gorgeous

From the manor of Downton to the gardens, village, landscapes, horses, automobiles, right down to the dresses – this show transports you to another place and time.  I often find myself sitting up straighter and sipping tea while I watch the show.  It’s dazzinlingly beautiful.

Why Everyone in the Universe Should Watch Downton Abbey

Can you spot the Downton Abbey Stars?


The Underworld Movies

My husband insists I watch this series so we can double-date with a couple and see this latest film.  It appears the lovely Kate Beckinsale has saved me the trouble of having to watch all the preceding movies.  True? Thanks Kate.